Civil Rights Organizations, Parents, Educators, and Policy Makers Commit to Collaboration on Reforming Georgia High Schools

Mar 14, 2011, 08:45 ET from Campaign for High School Equity

ATLANTA, March 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Georgia parents, educators, community leaders, and policy makers have committed to work together to raise the bar in public education by ensuring all students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and beyond.

The Campaign for High School Equity, a coalition of leading civil rights organizations, along with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda, and several other local organizations convened nearly 100 parents, community leaders, and state and local school officials to determine how they can collaborate on the effective implementation of public education reform. Participants questioned State Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan and school officials about the current status of education reform, while challenging them to implement meaningful improvements that take the needs of all Georgia students into account.

"It is our responsibility as parents and community groups to be active in the decision-making process as education reforms are designed and implemented in Georgia," said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda. "The most critical work we do on behalf of our children will take place in cities, towns, and schools across the state. We must act now to ensure that all of Georgia students reach their fullest potential."

Georgia's public schools continue to face serious challenges as thousands of students, many of whom are students of color or reside in low-income neighborhoods, struggle with low academic achievement. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, Georgia's high school graduation rate is just 58 percent. The situation for students of color is even more disturbing. Just 48 percent of Georgia's African American students graduate from high school in four years. The state's Hispanic and Native Indian students graduate at a rate of 43 percent and 38 percent, respectively. In 2010 more than 61,000 Georgia students failed to earn a high school diploma. If those students had graduated, they would have been in the position to add more than $16 billion dollars worth of lifetime earnings to Georgia's economy.

"Common core standards and the $400 million dollar Race to the Top grant Georgia will receive offer an incredible opportunity to provide our students with the education they need to thrive in the 21st century marketplace," said Georgia State Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan. "We have the opportunity. We have the resources. The time to act is now."

CHSE is a coalition of leading civil rights organizations representing communities of color that is focused on high school education reform. Members include the National Urban League, National Council of LaRaza, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Leadership Conference Education Fund, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, Alliance for Excellent Education, National Indian Education Association, and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.

CHSE is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

SOURCE Campaign for High School Equity